Rider modes and smartphone connectivity
When it comes to power delivery, the Zero SR has 3 different torque maps – Eco, Sport and Custom.
They are pretty self explanatory and practical. Eco is great when you are in the daily grind, need to save battery, or the weather is bad. Sport is good for regular riding – and in custom you can dial up your own settings through an app which connects to the bike via Bluetooth, and change various parameters such as the braking regeneration.
As the names imply, Eco gives a totally soft response, maybe comparable to a 600cc LAMS bike or similar.
In sport mode it’s a big step up. The power is direct, the torque is huge. Maximum power is 67HP (50kW) and torque twists out at 144Nm.
To put that in perspective, a Yamaha MT-07 produces around 55kW, but only 68Nm of torque. A Ducati 1200 Monster – 100kW and 118Nm of torque.
Those figures paint you a fair picture – the Zero SR has the power of a supersport machine, but the torque of a superbike. Acceleration is about on par with a supersport bike – and I would rate the overall feeling as ‘supersport on banned substances’… not full-on steroids, but peptides. It completely changes the way you ride the bike.
Is it a game changer?
If you take a look at the front of the bike, you’ll notice there’s a huge battery where the engine normally is normally located.
The Zero SR weighs in at 188kg which is not too bad, it still feels quite nimble. Because of the constraints of the rectangular battery, it carries weight differently to a conventional motorcycle. If you think about it, there has been decades of engineering development for combustion engines and their components, so everything is optimised for its use – fitting nicely and efficiently.
With the Zero SR there is this big, heavy battery, and it changes the centre of gravity, undoubtedly providing a few headaches for the engineers.
I would say it took me about 36 hours to get used to the balance of this bike – then it felt fine. The Zero SR feels planted to the road – throttle control is is awesome, it doesn’t get much better. Braking? You would never know that’s a single disc up front, there is fantastic feel and ABS.
This is a big thing, because I think to have the most fun on this bike, being fast is more a matter of pulling the Zero SR up and turning rather than holding high corner speed. Like I said, the performance is supersport-like, but you can use the torque to your advantage which isn’t really possible on supersport machines which benefit from higher revs and corner speeds.
But the big adjustment is the centre of gravity. This is where it gets hard to compare to a normal bike – and to be honest, even the horsepower comparisons don’t tell the whole story. Riding it feels like you’re in a Star Wars scene. Its almost silent electric ‘whirring’ noise completely changes the riding experience. You could race these bikes in the space of a footy field and not get one noise complaint from the neighbours. This bike really has the potential to be a game changer.
The experience is so different and I became more and more comfortable as the days went on. The components are mostly familiar to what we are all used to, but because the bike reacts differently to the weight placement, traditional engineering doesn’t necessarily go out the window, because it’s grounded in physics, but it has encouraged engineers to be creative.
Even down to tyre selection, the Pirelli Diablo Rosso feels solid – but you are aware there is only a 140 section on the rear – so you ride accordingly.